Beginner, unsure of correct lighting

Amanda81

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Hi. I am going to set up a indoor house for a sulcata tortoise. I understand I will need a basking spot but what's the best light to use for this? I also know I will need UVB light but I need to know which one to get, does it need to light just an area or spot or the entire enclosure? I have read certain lights have damaged eyes and caused blindness. Is there a certain strength or type/brand that I should get? Of course the manufacturers tell u to buy theirs and the pet stores want u to buy what they sale, I want to know from actual owners what has worked best for yours. I figure this will b the best honest info I can get.
 
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Amanda81

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And I also read they have daytime and night time temperatures so is there a product I can buy that will gradually turn the lights off just like the sun going down, that way it's not just lights on lights off? I would assume a gradual decrease would b close to natural and healthier for him.
 

dannel

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Hello, and welcome to the forum! I hope I can answer a few of your questions:

For a basking light, you have a few options. You can either get a spot light, a ceramic heat emitter, or an MVB.

Spot lights are just the regular reptile lights you see most commonly in stores, like this one:

pPETNA-5136712_main_t300x300.jpg


Ceramic Heat Emitters, or CHEs, only emit heat, and DO NOT emit light. These kinds of bulbs are perfect for owners who's climate forces them to heat the enclosure at night. CHEs are superior to the Red or Black coloured spotlights, since CHEs give off no light at all. Most CHEs look something like this...

201172515405790252.jpg


MVBs, or Mercury Vapor Bulbs, give off both visible light, heat, and UV. Most people (as far as I know) prefer to use these, but if your enclosure gets cold at night, its probably not a good idea to have the light on as well. MVBs look something like this:

pPETNA-5210549_main_enh.jpg


The lights that can damage a tortoises eyes are the "coil" type UV bulbs, like these:

article-1075613-02F361FB00000578-154_468x471.jpg


For a UV bulb, your best choice is to use a "tube" type bulb, like this:

p-27554-60869-reptile.jpg



As for the soft daylight cycle, I am purchasing a Herpstat thermostat. Most of these can slowly increase the voltage to your lights at sunrise, and then decrease them at sunset, as to not be a simple on/off switch.

I hope I helped you!

Daniel
 

Amanda81

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Hello, and welcome to the forum! I hope I can answer a few of your questions:

For a basking light, you have a few options. You can either get a spot light, a ceramic heat emitter, or an MVB.

Spot lights are just the regular reptile lights you see most commonly in stores, like this one:

pPETNA-5136712_main_t300x300.jpg


Ceramic Heat Emitters, or CHEs, only emit heat, and DO NOT emit light. These kinds of bulbs are perfect for owners who's climate forces them to heat the enclosure at night. CHEs are superior to the Red or Black coloured spotlights, since CHEs give off no light at all. Most CHEs look something like this...

201172515405790252.jpg


MVBs, or Mercury Vapor Bulbs, give off both visible light, heat, and UV. Most people (as far as I know) prefer to use these, but if your enclosure gets cold at night, its probably not a good idea to have the light on as well. MVBs look something like this:

pPETNA-5210549_main_enh.jpg


The lights that can damage a tortoises eyes are the "coil" type UV bulbs, like these:

article-1075613-02F361FB00000578-154_468x471.jpg


For a UV bulb, your best choice is to use a "tube" type bulb, like this:

p-27554-60869-reptile.jpg



As for the soft daylight cycle, I am purchasing a Herpstat thermostat. Most of these can slowly increase the voltage to your lights at sunrise, and then decrease them at sunset, as to not be a simple on/off switch.

I hope I helped you!

Daniel
Yes very helpful. I sound like a kindergartner but the explanation with pictures helped more then anything I have read the last 3 weeks. Thank u sooo much.
 

dannel

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No problem. I find it much easier to have one detailed reply rather than many not so detailed replies ;)

If any other members want to chime in and make sure that what i said was correct, please do!
 
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naturalman91

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for a basking spot you'll want a MVB (mercury vapor bulb) sulcata's are sun worshipers
 

Levi the Leopard

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Personally, the high wattage of MVBs worry me. There is no one way to do it, so I will just offer my "how to" as another option to consider..

I'd raise the Sulcata in a closed chamber. This will allow you to maintain a humid environment for smooth shell growth. To heat the chamber (this will vary depending upon the enclosure size) I'd use a CHE(s) on thermostat. This will maintain the night temps and ambient day temps. I'd use the tube UV lighting and then a regular bulb for heat/basking.
Put the UV bulb and basking bulb on a timer and all your heat/lighting will be automatic.

Read up on:
The End of Pyramiding
Closed Chambers
Hatchling Failure Syndrome
Beginner Mistakes
And our Sulcata care sheet at the top of the Sulcata section and more details about my lighting recommendations will be revealed.

Hope this helps :)
 

Amanda81

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Personally, the high wattage of MVBs worry me. There is no one way to do it, so I will just offer my "how to" as another option to consider..

I'd raise the Sulcata in a closed chamber. This will allow you to maintain a humid environment for smooth shell growth. To heat the chamber (this will vary depending upon the enclosure size) I'd use a CHE(s) on thermostat. This will maintain the night temps and ambient day temps. I'd use the tube UV lighting and then a regular bulb for heat/basking.
Put the UV bulb and basking bulb on a timer and all your heat/lighting will be automatic.

Read up on:
The End of Pyramiding
Closed Chambers
Hatchling Failure Syndrome
Beginner Mistakes
And our Sulcata care sheet at the top of the Sulcata section and more details about my lighting recommendations will be revealed.

Hope this helps :)
I have read all those except the end of pyramiding and I'm going to do that now. I have been pondering on this for awhile and came up with the following:
My enclosure will b a "closed chamber" type, as big as the space will allow. I will use the tube type bulbs for UVB and mount those along the top of the back wall(inside) my enclosure. I will use a CHE for my heat source, mounting it in the center of my enclosure toward the top and then a plain 100watt splash/mist proof basking light for my basking spot. Does this sound right?
 

Amanda81

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I was also looking at lighting stuff today and the UVB lights (tube type) they have some that's 2, 5, and 10. I have no clue what that number means or which one would b best. Which should I use for a sulcata hatchling?
 

mikeh

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I was also looking at lighting stuff today and the UVB lights (tube type) they have some that's 2, 5, and 10. I have no clue what that number means or which one would b best. Which should I use for a sulcata hatchling?
The numbers correspond to UVB % output of the tube. For sulcata 10% rating is ideal. You also need to identify tube type, either T8 or new T5HO type. T5HO provides brighter light and UVB at double the distance of T8. Long tubes UVBs do not provide heat, an additional heat source such as CHE-Ceramic Heat emitter is needed.
 

Tom

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I have read all those except the end of pyramiding and I'm going to do that now. I have been pondering on this for awhile and came up with the following:
My enclosure will b a "closed chamber" type, as big as the space will allow. I will use the tube type bulbs for UVB and mount those along the top of the back wall(inside) my enclosure. I will use a CHE for my heat source, mounting it in the center of my enclosure toward the top and then a plain 100watt splash/mist proof basking light for my basking spot. Does this sound right?


This sounds like a good plan to start with, but once it is all set up and running you will need to make minor tweaks to get things just right. A couple of suggestions:
1. Use the 10.0 long florescent tubes and mount them close to the substrate. No more than 10-12". Use a long one to light up the whole enclosure, but give your tortoise shady areas to hide out too. Or use a shorter T-8 HO unit that can be mounted higher up. Either way, if you will be relying on indoor UV for many months of every year then a light meter is an indispensable tool for you. I like this one:
https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html

2. I prefer 65 watt flood bulbs to regular bulbs for basking. They use less electricity and put the heat where you want it, but not TOO focused like a spot beam would be.

3. Run your CHE on a thermostat to control ambient temps day and night. Set it and forget it.



And dannel... GREAT post!
 

Amanda81

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First off, would a 5 ft long 3ft wide 30in tall closed chamber enclosure b ok for a sulcata hatchling? I know bigger the better but that's as big as my space will allow for the moment. In about 3-4 months I will have another space I can use and it's way bigger. The enclosure will b mainly wood with a 22" glass front, there will b wood trim 4" high around bottom so it's not see thru. It will also have a 4", I guess you could call it a canopy. Here are my thoughts on lighting system: mounting a 48" Reptisun 10.0 UV florescent to back wall of canopy (that would have it around 20" from bottom once u add your substrate). Then a 100watt basking bulb on opposite site of the hide. Then for my heat use a CHE, perhaps mounted more toward the center of enclosure.? I want the UVB bulb and basking bulb to slowly go off over time just like the sun going down. And I would like the day temp to slowly drop for nite temps slow as well. And of course I want it to come back on the next day just the same as well. I know I will need a thermostat to control the heat and a gun to check temps and humidity levels. My questions...
1. What items will I need to make my lights fade off and on?
2. What will I need to make my heat drop slowly to nite temps?
3. Is the distance from the bottom to where I propose to mount the lights and CHE ok?
4. What should the humidity level in the enclosure be? And does that need to change from daytime to nighttime?
 

Amanda81

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This sounds like a good plan to start with, but once it is all set up and running you will need to make minor tweaks to get things just right. A couple of suggestions:
1. Use the 10.0 long florescent tubes and mount them close to the substrate. No more than 10-12". Use a long one to light up the whole enclosure, but give your tortoise shady areas to hide out too. Or use a shorter T-8 HO unit that can be mounted higher up. Either way, if you will be relying on indoor UV for many months of every year then a light meter is an indispensable tool for you. I like this one:
https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html

2. I prefer 65 watt flood bulbs to regular bulbs for basking. They use less electricity and put the heat where you want it, but not TOO focused like a spot beam would be.

3. Run your CHE on a thermostat to control ambient temps day and night. Set it and forget it.



And dannel... GREAT post!
When u say 65 watt flood bulb, this is a normal pick it up at walmart flood light? And if my calculations r right I was going to mount my UVB light about 20" from the substrate. My enclosure will be 5'long, 3' wide and 30" tall. So would I want to get say, Reptisun 10.0 t5 high output UVB bulb since it's higher up from the substrate?When looking through reviews earlier I seen that LLL Reptile was a good place to get equipment so I went on their website and wrote down everything I thought I would might need. Not sure about the lighting/bulbs I pretty much just wrote all them down and figured I could narrow it down with advise.
 

mikeh

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A perfect height distance for reptisun T5HO. UVB tubes are not to be used on dimmers. CHE and basking bulbs work with dimmers fine. Size of your enclosure is great for hatchling. You may place the basking bulb within vicinity of UVB tube as he will be spending time under basking bulb.
 

mikeh

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Temps will drop of slowly as lights turn off and vice versa. Humidity will be always lower under che and basking bulb. At night the humidity will be high in the humid hide as long as the tort uses it. (You dont want the tort to sleep in the open under CHE. Even if you maintain humidity at 80%, you will still get fluctuations under heat sources that tortoise will experience. Maintains daytime temps at such levels that tortoise is not spending too much time under basking bulb.
 

dannel

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No, you can have either dimmable or non dimmable things. The controller will do all the work. I prefer the Herpstat, as it can also manage the humidity, instead of just misting at a set time.
 
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